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Virginia History Day By Day
Find out what happened this week in Virginia's history

 Thomas Walker explored and named Cumberland Gap (Civil War cannons pictured in today's Cumberland Gap National Historical Park on Kentucky-Virginia border), 1750.
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Date published: 7/12/2011


1748: The Virginia Council grants 800,000 acres to the Loyal Land Company in far southwest Virginia. Among the company organizers are John Lewis of Staunton and Thomas Walker, Peter Jefferson, Joshua Fry and Thomas Meriwether of Albemarle County. Two years later, Walker explored the vast region, discovered and named the Cumberland Gap and became known as the "Father of Kentucky."

1849: Former first lady Dolley Madison, 81, dies at her home, Montpelier, in Orange County, having outlived her husband, President James Madison, by 13 years. President Zachary Taylor said of her at the time, "She will never be forgotten because she was truly our first lady for a half-century." Dolley and James Madison are buried together at Montpelier.


1916: [95 years ago today] Suffolk native John Lester Johnson takes part in what may be the nation's first integrated professional boxing match. Johnson, an African-American, was 22 when he fought a match with an unknown boxer named Jack Dempsey at the Harlem Sporting Club in New York City. The 10-round event ended with no decision, although Dempsey--who suffered three broken ribs--said Johnson was the better boxer. Johnson later had small parts in a number of motion pictures. He died in California in 1968.

1996: [15 years ago today] Hurricane Bertha passes over a large portion of Tidewater Virginia. Suffolk and Newport News were in the hurricane's direct path. Portsmouth reported gusty winds, which blew down power lines. Southeastern Virginia received four inches of rain. Emergency officials in Smithfield, Hampton, and Gloucester and Northumberland counties, reported tornado activity.


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